Vancouver's plan to recycle cigarette butts

(John Macdougall/AFP/Getty Images)


Cigarette butts ... toxic little piles of litter that accumulate into the billions on our streets and sidewalks. Vancouver hopes to be the greenest city in the world in seven years and has implemented North America's first cigarette butt recycling program to help the environment and cleanliness of the city.


A cigarette butt recycling bin in downtown
Vancouver. The program installed 110
recycling receptacles in 4 downtown
areas. (CP/Darryl Dyck)

Far fewer Canadians smoke than just a generation ago, but cigarette poisoning remains a problem

Cigarette butts typically roll through city streets like urban tumbleweed. But at least some of the rolling should stop in Vancouver this week. The city's installed what appear to be about 100 ashtrays on poles -- but they're actually recycling receptacles. Smokers got a first look at them this week.

The goal is not only to keep the streets tidier, but to recycle the butts into something less toxic and more useful. Vancouver is the first municipality in North America to have a cigarette butt recycling program.

Andrea Reimer is a Vancouver City Councillor. We reached her at her home in Vancouver.

Some estimate that more than 4 trillion are discarded as litter every year around the world. In Canada, they tumble into waterways.

"People don't think twice about a cigarette butt lying on the ground. Last year our volunteers across Canada picked up over 400,000 butts from our shorelines. It's generally the number one item we see on our shorelines."

Susan Debreceni, organizer with Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup

Dr. Thomas Novotny is a professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at San Diego State University. He's also the head of the Cigarette Butt Pollution Project -- a group that, among other things, helps to draft legislation for the state of California aimed at reducing cigarette butt litter. Dr. Novotny was in San Diego.

Are you a smoker? Would you use these receptacles even if they were not close by? Share your thoughts.

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This segment was produced by The Current's Liz Hoath and Marc Apollinio.

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